My name is Tahnea Locklear and I’m happy to introduce myself as a new Community and Rural Development agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. My primary responsibilities focus upon tourism, local foods, and a sustainable local economy.
I grew up on and around farms in Indiana’s largest and most rural county. My parents raised corn, soybeans, and hogs commercially, as well as garden and orchard produce for our local farmers market. As of 2010, they no longer farm on a large scale, and now are restoring more than 200 acres of wildlife habitat on their farm by planting native hardwood trees. My mother recently retired from Purdue University after 30 years in Food Service and continues to sell produce, breads, jarred goods and flowers at the market. I spent the summers of my childhood and teens with my family in the South, where my grandparents farmed tobacco.
Throughout college, I worked at our local zoo, creating and delivering educational programs and caring for the animals. After graduating from Purdue University’s School of Agriculture, I worked for Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago; Indiana Department of Natural Resources; Indianapolis Zoo; Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state.
While with the Colville Tribes, I was trained by Washington State University Cooperative Extension as a Challenge Education facilitator and began using these hands-on, interactive techniques to bring about positive changes within the community.
Challenge Education involves high ropes courses, zip lines, rappelling, and eco-adventuring, as well as fun, on-the-ground, team-building activities to help push individuals and groups to grow, think, and succeed in new ways.
I was also responsible for the wildlife and habitat management and hunting regulations on the 1.4 million-acre reservation; the second largest one in the nation. I often mediated difficult conversations between ranchers; orchard farmers; hunters; environmentalists; state, federal, and tribal agencies; loggers; and citizens.
I returned to Indiana in 2003 and for the next eight years, I owned and operated a successful private business. Having been a business owner, I know the importance of a quality product, word-of-mouth advertising and the value of peoples’ time. Before moving to North Carolina, I was humbled and blessed to have enjoyed a diverse and successful career full of amazing experiences, and serving in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
As to the present, I chose to leave Indiana and move here for love. Love for the land, the culture, the people and for my husband and his family.
I first fell for the beauty of Robeson County one summer in college. I’ve lived many places but continued to dream of North Carolina. I visited for years before moving here and I clearly see the potential for growth in tourism, local food systems, and economic opportunities. I’m impressed with all the effort being made in these areas by so many. Though I’m not from here, this is my home now and I will do my utmost to be an asset to this county. It is always my desire to be of good service. I promise, in turn, through my position, to do my best to support, educate, create successful working relationships, and build strong partnerships that produce real results with lasting positive outcomes.
To contact Tahnea Locklear, Community and Rural Development agent at the Extension Center, call 910-671-3276, or by email Tahnea_Locklear@ncsu.edu with any thoughts, ideas, or questions. For more information about Extension, visit http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.